Arbol de la Vida 2019 Award Dinner stage backdrop
Art Plaza in Downtown Dallas photo

Compassionate Charitable Giving

How We Work Events

What We Do

The Catholic Foundation was established in 1955 by a group of visionary Catholic business and professional leaders in the midst of a period of remarkable growth and prosperity in the Dallas area to ensure that the physical and spiritual needs of those in the community who were less fortunate would never be overlooked.

Our History of Service

Latest from the Foundation

Darina O'Dowd Padian
Darina O’Dowd Padian
Cheryl Unis Mansour
Cheryl Unis Mansour

The Catholic Foundation Names Darina O’Dowd Padian Vice President of Development; Cheryl Unis Mansour Appointed Senior Vice President of Donor Relations

Executive Change Fortifies Foundation’s Future as Charitable Legacy Planning Leader

The Catholic Foundation has appointed Darina O’Dowd Padian as its new vice president of development and promoted Cheryl Unis Mansour, who has served in that position for 16 years, to senior vice president of donor relations. Both will begin their new role on September 20.

Padian most recently served as the Texas and Colorado director for The Ireland Funds, a global philanthropic network. At The Ireland Funds, O’Dowd Padian cultivated and maintained existing donor relationships and established new donor connections in those two states while raising support for nonprofit organizations in Ireland. She has 30 years of sales, hospitality and fundraising experience and holds a bachelor's degree from the Shannon College of Hotel Management in Shannon, Ireland.

In her new role, O’Dowd Padian will report to president and chief executive officer Matt Kramer. She will lead the development and marketing staff, work with current and prospective donors and provide vision and management to the development team to continue growing the assets managed by The Catholic Foundation.

Since joining The Catholic Foundation, Mansour has led the development team, cultivated deep relationships with donors and has elevated the Foundation’s stature in the community resulting in tremendous success.

The Foundation currently manages more than $285 million in assets, houses more than 490 charitable funds and trusts and has provided more than $226 million in grants to religious, charitable and educational organizations. In her new role, Mansour will also report to Kramer and focus on providing support to existing donors. 

Kramer said these leadership changes further strengthen the lay leadership of The Catholic Foundation staff and will propel the Foundation to new heights as a charitable legacy planning leader. He described O’Dowd Padian and Mansour as great examples of professionals with high moral character, deep faith and a passion to serve others.
“We have a very strong and capable board of trustees, a clear vision and a highly talented leadership team and staff that delivers outstanding support to donors. We are extremely well equipped for the future,” he said.

“Darina brings a wealth of relationship management and results driven experience. Her vision, composure and compassion for serving donors accelerate our efforts and reinforce The Catholic Foundation as the ideal partner to help fulfill charitable giving goals,” he added. “Cheryl has been a trusted advisor and invaluable partner for many years and has provided unparalleled strategic vision for The Catholic Foundation. Under her leadership, Cheryl has helped make it easy for donors to work with the Foundation, and we are fortunate that our donors and the community will continue to benefit from the endless relationships she has built over the years.”

O’Dowd Padian, born and raised in Ireland, and her three daughters are parishioners of St. Monica Catholic Church. Her oldest daughter attends the University of Kansas, and her two younger daughters are students at Ursuline Academy of Dallas and St. Monica Catholic School. Prior to working at The Ireland Funds, Padian worked for more than a decade at the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in various senior management roles.

“The Catholic Foundation is on the rise, and as that success builds further for our donors and grant recipients, we have an opportunity to forge even stronger bonds with the community,” said Padian. “I will bring a service-oriented mentality to everything I do by drawing upon the expertise of the staff to serve our donors in the most meaningful ways. My Catholic values align closely with The Catholic Foundation, and I am humbled to join the organization at this extraordinary time.”

Mansour is the daughter of Thomas C. Unis who established The Catholic Foundation with Bishop Thomas K. Gorman and Edward R. Maher in 1955. She has 30 years of philanthropy experience including 14 years as vice president of external affairs at Communities Foundation of Texas involving public outreach and working with donors to establish funds and trusts and 16 years at The Catholic Foundation as vice president of development. She is a parishioner of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and the mother of three grown children and eight grandchildren.

“I’m looking forward to working with our donors in carrying out their charitable missions. They are passionate, generous and unselfish example of what Christ taught,” said Mansour “Their beliefs are big and they truly care for others. It’s a blessing to work with them and form strategies to maximize resources to build a better community.”

Lydia and Dan Novakov Named 2022 Catholic Foundation Award Honoree

Lifetime Catholic philanthropists, supporters of charitable organizations to be honored next February

Lydia and Dan Novakov, long-time Dallas philanthropists with a passion for giving people a chance in life while dedicating their time, talent and treasure to serving others in areas including healthcare, Catholic education, children’s charities, the Catholic community as a whole including preservation of the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe downtown, have been named the 39th Catholic Foundation Award honorees.

Married 43 years, the Novakovs are members of Christ the King Catholic Church. The couple will be recognized for their example of continually volunteering to make the local community a better place to live, work, learn and play for all. 

On February 19, 2022, the Novakovs will be honored during The Catholic Foundation Award Dinner at the Hilton Anatole Hotel. Sara and David Martineau will serve as the 2022 Award Dinner Committee Chairs.

For nearly four decades, The Catholic Foundation Award has recognized an individual, couple or family for their distinguished service and support to further the religious, charitable and educational needs throughout the local Catholic community.

“Lydia and Dan represent the very best in living a life of service from a Catholic perspective. As individuals, and as a couple, they’ve humbly and graciously taken on some of the region’s highest profile leadership roles for charitable causes,” said Matt Kramer, president and CEO of The Catholic Foundation. “Throughout Lydia’s and Dan’s life, thousands of people have benefitted from the funds they’ve help raise, programs they’ve enhanced, and impossible dreams turned into realities. We’re honored to recognize Lydia and Dan with the 39th annual Catholic Foundation Award for a lifetime of doing their very best to serve others.”

The Novakovs met in college as Lydia earned a bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., and a master’s degree from The University of Notre Dame while Dan earned a bachelor’s degree and J.D. degree from The University of Notre Dame. Dan also earned his LL.M., Tax, from the Southern Methodist University.

A Dallas native, Lydia returned to North Texas after college and taught government at Ursuline Academy of Dallas where she graduated. A native of Cincinnati, Dan was a Moeller High School standout and played on the Notre Dame football team for four years, earning the honor of offensive MVP in 1971.

Today, Dan is a member of Frost Brown Todd where he provides legal and tax advice on federal, state and international transactional tax matters.

Lydia and Dan have two children, Isabell and Daniel, and three granddaughters.

Living a Life of Service

The charitable organizations that Lydia and Dan have served as trustees, campaign or committee chairs or advisory council members are numerous.

Among those Lydia currently serves include the Catholic Diocese of Dallas Finance Council, Hoblitzelle Foundation, UT Southwestern Medical Center, The Catholic Foundation as Advisory Council chair, Town of Highland Park, Junior League of Dallas, Fair Park First and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. She previously served on the boards of Crystal Charity Ball Committee, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Senior Source and Ursuline Academy.

Dan currently serves on the AT&T Cotton Bowl Board of Directors, The Catholic Foundation Advisory Council, Catholic Diocese of Dallas involving strategic planning for Catholic schools and co-chair of the Our Faith Our Future capital campaign, Communities Foundation of Texas Advisory Council and the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. He also has served on the boards of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Dallas Schools, The Baylor Care System Foundation, SMU Athletic Forum, and the University of Notre Dame Law Association Board of Directors.

They both value their lifelong Catholic schools experience, referring to it as a “total education of body, mind and spirit.” Growing up in devout Catholic households, the Novakovs say their formative years cast a large impression on the faith and family-oriented life they created as young parents and how they still interact with their children and family today.

“We grew up knowing you should be grateful for what you had, and do what you could for others,” says Lydia. “We are humbled and honored to receive the Catholic Foundation Award. This is a celebration of our Catholic community.  We have pitched in with many others to help people overcome hunger, to help people have clothes to wear and open up the Catholic education process so that children can obtain a Catholic education if they want one.”

“The Catholic Church extends a helping hand to the less fortunate and provides a path to a life of hope and dignity, and that’s what we attempt to do in serving others,” says Dan. They often call upon the Gospel of Matthew to embody a mindset that helps them to strive to do their best each day. “For the Son of man himself came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. We have been given life to serve others rather than to be served.”

Table and individual reservations for the 2022 Catholic Foundation Award Dinner can be purchased online by clicking here. Visit, call 972-661-9792 or email for more information.


January 5, 2022

67 Things To Know About The Catholic Foundation

As we embark on our 67th year of existence, we’re excited about the future and the continuing positive impact The Catholic Foundation will have on our Catholic community and region. Many know about the work of The Catholic Foundation from the grant recipients who receive funds thanks to the generosity of donors both past and present.
December 29, 2021

The Good Word - Fall 2021

This edition of The Good Word provides information about our continued presenting sponsorship of the Diocese of Dallas' televised Masses in 2022, a story about our recent leadership changes designed to further strengthen our ability to serve donors, and much more.
December 23, 2021

Wishing You Joy This Christmas

The virtue of joy poured out from this past Sunday’s liturgical readings as the fourth week of Advent inches closer to the great celebration of Jesus’ birth on Christmas. As you light all four candles on your Advent wreath, or admire the twinkling lights of others’ wreaths, we wish you and your loved ones blessed moments kissed by grace.

(972) 661.9792

Make a Difference

The vision of The Catholic Foundation is to be the primary philanthropic leader whose trusted stewardship satisfies our donors' intentions while meeting the needs of our Catholic community.